July 30, 2005

Blind Channel Resort and Marina

Hello Everyone!

Well, the weather on the VHF radio from Environment Canada last night and this morning, waffled about a low front approaching just North of here. They weren't sure where it was headed and how strong it might be. They were talking definitely Gale warnings and possible Storm warnings (Storm warnings are even less fun with winds over 48 knots!). So we diverted this morning and headed to the Blind Channel Resort and Marina in Mayne Passage rather than head up Johnstone Straights where the crummy weather is forecast.

Blind Channel Resort and Marina has Wifi with a satellite link, so today and tomorrow we'll have Internet access. Still no phone coverage here though.

We ended up staying two nights at Oleo's Floating Restaurant and Marina. A very unique place. The Montoya family owns and runs Oleo's. Leon Montoya is the very charismatic 78 year old father. He's the famous character that everyone raves about, but the rest of his family is equally charming. Paul the son (in his 20s) is managing the place and handling all the upgrades, repairs, docking, etc. as Leon is off in Quebec taking care of the arrangements as a great uncle passed away.

Katrina, the daughter, runs the restaurant as Ruth the Mom was feeling under the weather with a knee problem. It turns out Katrina is only 17 and a Senior in High School (she seemed very sophisticated and we first thought she was in college). The schooling is by correspondence course and it seems like having friends her own age is not easy.

Oleo's has four entree choices for dinner: crispy duck, Louisiana chicken, stuffed peppers and cabbage rolls. We had the duck the first night and the chicken last night. Both were yummy. Dinner also included a nice greek salad (a feta complee!) and chocolate cake for dessert. Interesting, ay?

Note, we're picking up the Canadian language. "Ay" is VERY Canadian. So is, "You betcha" and "Don'cha know". We love it. It always brings a smile to our faces when we hear it.

Paul is also an experienced fishing guide. He used to guide for some of the big resorts nearby at $85 CDN per person per hour, but now he's running guided fishing trips on his boat from Oleo's at $20/hr. He want's it to be affordable for most folks. We thought this would be a good opportunity to learn and signed up to go yesterday morning (Friday, July 29th).

So we went with him Friday morning at 6AM. One other fellow went with us. So there we are, cool not cold, the first boat at the fishing ground as Oleo's is only a mile or so from the choice area. The other resorts are miles away.

Soon we were joined by a large group of small boats, all with guides and their clients. The way it works is we decide on a rotation, of who gets to handle the first fish on the line, second and next. Mary would have liked for the other gent to go first so she could see how to handle the fish. He was trying to be gentlemanly and insisted that Mary go first.

OK, so first hit... Paul sets the hook and Mary reels it in. It's a dog fish, a type of shark. It's released. Mary's still waiting for her turn with a salmon. We all are!

Finally, another fish strikes... Paul sets the hook... Mary reels and reels and reels. It's another dog fish. Her arm is getting tired already.

More than two hours have gone by and so our guide thinks he'd better check the bait, make sure it's still there.

On the way up, we get another strike...oh no. Is it another dog fish? No, it looks like a salmon. So Mary's reeling like crazy, listening to the instructions being yelling at her, getting excited. Mary was concentrating so hard she didn't see the fish! However, the other three of us could see that it was as fantastic 25 pound Spring (what the Canadian's call a King Salmon). It was fighting an jumping trying to throw off the hook and escape the holographic "flasher" about 3 feet up from the anchovy.

Unfortunately, he got away. He or she spit out the hook... Barbless hooks are used here by law, so that makes it much more difficult. You have to keep tension on the whole time or the fish comes unhooked!

The rest of the morning (until 10AM) was very quiet. How disappointing but fun. We did learn a lot.

Reeling in the lines, we caught a nice Quillback Rockfish - so we had rock fish tacos for lunch again.

Friday afternoon, Paul took another group of four out and the fish were biting like crazy and everyone got their limit in only 2 hours! Can you believe it?

We are going to try it from our boat as we go along. The equipment we have is for salmon fishing in California though. Here the fish much deeper and you need a down rigger and different gear.

More on the fishing story... The other gent got a bite and lost it. He thought it was probably a dog fish, Paul thought a small Salmon from the way the fish fought.

Bill never got to his turn. So nicely Paul only charged us for one person.

Paul is a great fishing guide and we'd recommend him highly. He's very knowledgeable and very inexpensive.

The Montoya family runs Oleo's the way things used to be! Highly recommended.

Katrina also bakes bread and cinnamon rolls for sale in the morning and does breakfast and lunch on request.

We did have some unexpected excitement last night. As we and the folks from two other boats were having dinner, we watched as another big power boat (a classic 50 foot Ocean Alexander, built in the late '70s or early '80s) started to come in. We were thinking and saying, "Where is he going? What is he doing?" He was all over the place. Then he started backing in and hit one boat and sent the dock reeling.

That cleared out the restaurant, small as it is. We all ran out to try to help. The Captain (alone without anyone else on the boat) definitely did not have control of his boat. Next he swung wide and our boat looked like his next target. So Bill ran to our boat, ready for defensive measures, if necessary.

Mind you this was all going on with almost no wind or current pushing his boat around...

Paul has a Captains License and offered to get on and park the boat for him. The captain kept up his inept efforts. Then finally said OK to Paul's help.

He had some difficulty too, not being used to the boat, until he found the bow thruster. It pushes the bow of the boat left or right as needed. The owner had not been using it. Now Paul was able to get the boat right in.

Whew! That was the only adrenalin rush we have had since we've been here. It took us all a little time to wind down. We all returned to our meal in the restaurant. It seemed everyone reached for a little more wine too.

Poor captain. We didn't find out until the next morning what the story was... We were pondering what his problem might be: new boat to him? Inexperience? Too tired? He stole the boat and didn't know how to drive? His crew deserted him? Or what? I'm sure he was mortified.

Next morning, we found out that he owned the boat for many years and was a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. You'd think that means you know how to drive, but obviously, Nooooo! He'd been driving since early morning a long way from a place called Kwatsi up in the Broughton's. Most folks take 2 or 3 days to go that far. He was very, very tired and just lost it.

He left first thing in the morning before most folks got up - Paul had backed him and docked the boat (otherwise he wouldn't have been able to get off his boat as it was longer than the dock space available. So he could easily leave going forward. We would have left early too after the fiasco last night, if we were him. Whew again!

There is a nice German Restaurant here and hiking trails. So tomorrow we'll probably go hiking in the rain.

Warmest Regards to all!

Mary and Bill

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